Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Neil Magny and Anthony Rocco Martin will duel this Saturday (June 6, 2020) at UFC 250 from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
When Magny returned from a loss and long layoff earlier in the year, he was largely written off against Chinese power puncher Li Jingliang. Magny proved that notion silly, however, big-brothering his opponent with relative ease en route to an absolutely dominant decision victory. Meanwhile, Martin has quietly won five of six bouts since moving up to Welterweight, only coming up short against top-ranked Demian Maia. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has very much come into his own over the last couple years, but he’s still searching for his trademark victory.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Kelvin Gastelum (UFC Fight Night 78), Johny Hendricks (UFC 207), Hector Lombard (UFC Fight Night 85), Carlos Condit (UFC 219), Li Jingliang (UFC 248)
Key Losses: Santiago Ponzinibbio (UFC Fight Night 140), Demian Maia (UFC 190), Rafael dos Anjos (UFC 215), Lorenz Larkins (UFC 202)
Keys to Victory: Magny is back! The Elevation Fight Team product rose through the ranks to become a top contender on the strength of his rangy kickboxing, strong clinch and active schedule. The first two were on display against Jingliang, and Magny’s return to the cage less than two months later certainly counts for the latter.
Against Martin, Magny faces a fellow kickboxer who manages range well. However, Martin is likely the sharper striker. He puts a bit more snap into his punches and kicks the calf quite well, so the risk of Magny getting picked apart at range (a la the Ponzinibbio loss) does exist.
Pressure will be the key to preventing that outcome. It’s much more difficult to kick from the back foot, and Magny does have a significant reach advantage that will help him avoid counter punches while advancing. If Martin does kick at the leg while backing up, Magny needs to check/evade and keep firing to punish the attempt.
The clinch is Magny’s best area, and he should pursue it in this bout. Punching his way into the clinch will help smother Martin’s offense and counter punches. Plus, while Martin historically has defended takedowns well, he hasn’t really dealt with a lankier opponent trying to body lock him.
Worst case, Magny can still impose his will in the clinch with his hard knees and tricky arm tie-ups.
Anthony Rocco Martin
Key Wins: Ramazan Emeev (UFC Fight Night 163), Sergio Moraes (UFC Fight Night 146), Jake Matthews (UFC Fight Night 142), Ryan LaFlare (UFC 229)
Key Losses: Demian Maia (UFC on ESPN 3), Olivier Aubin-Mercier (UFC Fight Night 116), Leonardo Santos (UFC Fight Night 62), Beneil Dariush (UFC Fight Night 49)
Keys to Victory: Martin is a sniper, a rangy kickboxer who will punish foes at range with the jab and low kick but really does most of his damage on the counter. He’s also a really excellent grappler, having secured nine of his victories via submission.
Neil Magny does not like low kicks. He starts the vast majority of his combinations with the jab, committing his weight onto his lead leg as he moves forward. It’s a central feature of his overall game, but it also exposes him to getting knocked off-balance with low kicks. Both Ponzinibbio and dos Anjos have knocked Magny onto his butt with calf kicks, and Martin should be aiming to do the same.
If Magny does not feel confident in his ability to step forward, everything disintegrates. He can no longer build extended combinations or punch into the clinch. Against Ponzinibbio, he stopped trying to push forward, which pretty much allowed the Argentinian to tee off on him.
Martin doesn’t have quite the offensive power as “Gente Boa,” but he could still stab Magny with jabs all night if his foe is hanging back.
Two fringe contenders enter, one takes a solid step forward.
Both men are just outside the Top 15, which seems odd to me. Nevertheless, the victory here has a fair chance at breaking into those ranks (again). More than improving the little number besides his name, the victor extends his win streak to two and can really begin ramping up momentum.
Welterweight is quite talent-rich right now. While there are definitely some older names likely to slip down the ranks soon — are Nate Diaz and Anthony Pettis really Top 15 Welterweights? — there remain dangerous unranked contenders rising up. Any loss is costly, as the distance between each man and the title will expand.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 250 fight card on fight night, starting with the ESPN+/Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
At UFC 250, Neil Magny and Anthony Rocco Martin will face off. Which man will have his hand raised?